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Romney questioned about interracial marriage stance

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, accompanied by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at a building supply store in Green Bay, Wis., Monday, April 2, 2012. AP Photo/Steven Senne

HOWARD, Wisconsin - Mitt Romney's faith was thrust into the spotlight on Monday, when a Ron Paul supporter tried to quote a passage from a Mormon text and asked Romney if he believed interracial marriage is a sin.

The question arose during a town hall in this suburb of Green Bay by 28 year-old Bret Hatch, who came prepared with a piece of paper that contained quotes from Mormon scripture.

"I guess a lot of people say that your Mormon faith cannot be a concern in the election," Hatch said as a Romney staffer held a microphone so he could be heard throughout the room. "But I think, it might be, as well as I found these verses from the Mormon book."

Hatch tried to read a section from a religious text that has been quoted by some to suggest racist beliefs in the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Romney pushed on Mormon faith

"I'm sorry, we're just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view," the former Massachusetts governor said. "But if you have a question, I'll be happy to answer your question."

Hatch then asked Romney if he believed "it's a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black woman?"

"No. Next question." Romney responded.

The Mormon Church has been accused in the past of barring interracial marriage, but church officials say emphatically that is not the case.

Romney later returned to the topic of his religion on his own, saying he wanted to speak about "the practices of my faith." He spoke of serving as a pastor in his church for about ten years, an experience he said gave him the opportunity to work with those dealing with personal difficulties such as unemployment, marital problems, and health issues.

"When you get a chance to know people on a very personal basis, whether you're serving as a pastor or perhaps as a counselor or in other kinds of roles," Romney said, "you understand that every kind of person you see is facing some challenges. And one of the reasons I'm running for president of the United States is I want to help people, I want to lighten that burden."

After the town hall was over Hatch told reporters that he considered the subject "an important issue. He's going up against a black guy. He's going against Obama. This is a racial issue."

Hatch said he voted for Ron Paul in 2008 and planned to do so again Tuesday in Wisconsin's primary.